• Rethinking conservation goals for North America's gray wolves

      Toran, Laura (Temple University. Libraries, 2015)
      Gray wolves (Canis lupis) were extirpated from the continental United States in the early 1900’s. During the 1970’s wolves began dispersing into Montana and they were immediately placed under the protection of the Endangered Species Act. Reintroduction areas were established for the wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains, West of the Great Lakes, and in the Southwest. Between 2008 and 2013 wolf populations across the country we systematically removed from the Endangered Species Act, now only the Southwestern Mexican gray wolf remains protected. The threshold which determined the removal, or delisting, of gray wolves from the act was arbitrarily contrived. When determining the protection status of these wolves ecological services and issues with long term persistence should be considered. Gray wolf introduction promotes tree growth and recruitment providing an essential role as a buffer against climate change. Wolves are also at risk after they were delisted both from interactions with humans and genetic isolation. New areas for reintroduction were suggested for the still protected Mexican gray wolf in suitable areas of the southwest where connected metapopulations could be established. Grey wolves were once found nationwide, therefore the goal of gray wolf conservation should be to promote a large range for wolves which extends across the nations. This could restore the historic gene flow dynamics which gray wolves had in the U.S and provide extensive biological carbon sequestration.